by Maureen McNair
While our church, communities, and State have been closed down for most of the last 14 months, the volunteers at our South Bay Food Pantry have lived our values, created beloved community, and established an institution. Our food pantry is the future of our congregational life. The fact that our food pantry is our future became quite clear to me during the two weeks I was taking a stay-cation. I cannot wait for those of you who have never visited us to see what we have created. It will knock your socks oﬀ!
We are over 50 volunteers who have provided over 300,000 pounds of food to hundreds of people and distribute tens of thousands of diapers. We are a food and hygiene ministry.
Our volunteer teams started out as people who were members and friends of our congregation when we opened. We are now multi-cultural, intergenerational crews of members, friends, and people from the wider community. We work together in harmony to live our Unitarian Universalist values to help heal the world through service that is our prayer.
Our pantry has attracted hundreds of people from the community to walk by our church doors who may never have found us before. Some of them, I hope, will want to walk through the doors of our worship space and social hall when we reopen to get to know us. I look forward to the days when we can all take oﬀ our masks and really start to get to know one another. Our clients are families, seniors, people with pets, people who drive to our church, people who walk to us from their nearby homes.
We have also attracted volunteers who have never been on our campuses before who may be curious to get to know us and our congregation better. There is the Latinx family of seven whose parents volunteer every Saturday and whose two older children have also volunteered. There is the 83 year old Latinx woman who is strong enough to lift boxes of food repeatedly and can stand on her feet for a couple hours. There is our largest ﬁnancial donor, who has never been to a UU campus before.
I am so grateful to our steadfast volunteers who happily did their jobs while I was on a break, and to Jeﬀ Kline and Nina Douglass, who did the heavy lifting of sourcing food, getting it delivered, and keeping all the teams running. As they will tell you, there are a lot of details to keep juggling!
Our food pantry is also a completely self-sustaining ﬁnancial entity which has never received funds from the church’s annual budget. So, we all thank you for choosing us when you select a charity.
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